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“This would be the perfect setting for a horror film.”

“This would be the perfect setting for a horror film.”

Three seconds after he said it, it happened.

The flashlight was actually working against us as it gave our position away and we couldn’t see beyond the range of the light rays. We were vulnerable deep in the forest.

“Let’s go to the clearing in the sand dunes where the moonlight is stronger,” I said, wanting to get further away from the whistling branches of the trees as the wind howled through the forest.

“Turn off the light,” he said quickly, “Otherwise, they’ll see us.”

But it was too late.

You know how you can’t tickle yourself because you know you’re doing it so it doesn’t work? It’s almost the opposite when haunted figures in the night forest. We knew there were people there. We knew them. We knew they were going to scare the kids who were going to come after us.

But still, I couldn’t see them and I wasn’t sure I knew really where they were.

As if on cue when my son said that it would be the perfect horror movie scene, there was a deep scream from the edge of the forest and my son and I jumped a foot in the air and screamed ourselves.

After we caught our breath, the ghastly ghoul asked, “When are the little kids coming? All we get here are adults.”

I said that they were right behind us and that they would be there soon.

Some parents in the neighborhood had set up not a haunted house, but a haunted forest. We live in between two forests and one also has large sand dunes. Parents were spread around the dunes at the fringes where the forest began. Some had small lanterns, others candles, and they waited patiently for their victims to walk by.

I mostly want to remember this evening for the innocence of it. My 11-year-old boy is walking around this dark forest at 10 PM with some of his (now) closest friends while parents lurk in the moon shadows ready to pounce.

There was something very Disney about it. Maybe Normal Rockwell with a Stephen King twist. Maybe I’m just too jaded after 15 years in “the big city” but there are moments in my new small town home that I just can’t quite believe are real.

We’re walking around in the blackness of the forest on a stormy night in October with 20 or 30 of our neighbors and their kids. Again, sorry for the jaded big-city perspective, but I just can’t get over that I feel completely safe–well, save the gutted goblin that’s going to spring out from behind a tree at any minute. It’s just kids and parents having fun outdoors in the evening. No cars, no payments, no organizers, sponsors, no I don’t know what else.

Maybe it’s just been so long that I lived in a smaller town. I don’t know. I just find it magical.

That’s it. Magical.

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